17 Facts About Friday the 13th and the Number 13

November 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Weird News

If you fear Friday the 13th, then it hasn’t been a good year, has it? Next week’s unlucky day is the THIRD one this year.  This triple whammy comes around only once in every 11 years.

Here are some more facts about the infamous day, courtesy of
Thomas Fernsler, a math specialist at the University of Delaware who has studied the number 13 for more than 20 years and Donald Dossey, a folklore historian and author :

  1. The British Navy built a ship named Friday the 13th. On its maiden voyage, the vessel left dock on a Friday the 13th, and was never heard from again.

  2. The ill-fated Apollo 13 launched at 13:13 CST on Apr. 11, 1970. The sum of the date’s digits (4-11-70) is 13 (as in 4+1+1+7+0 = 13). And the explosion that crippled the spacecraft occurred on April 13 (not a Friday). The crew did make it back to Earth safely, however.

  3. More than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.
  4. Fear of Friday the 13th — one of the most popular myths in science — is called paraskavedekatriaphobia as well as friggatriskaidekaphobia. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.
  5. One of the earliest recorded incidents relating to Friday the 13th refers to the massacre of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13, 1307.
  6. Butch Cassidy, notorious American train and bank robber, was born on Friday, April 13, 1866. Fidel Castro was born on Friday, Aug. 13, 1926.
  7. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.
  8. Parisian diners superstitious of the number 13 can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.
  9. According to Smithsonian Magazine “fear of the #13 costs American a billion dollars per year in absenteeism, train and plane cancellations,  and reduced commerce on the 13th of the month.”
  10. Ancient Romans regarded the number 13 as a symbol of death, destruction and misfortune.
  11. A witches coven has 13 members.
  12. Tarot Card number 13 is the Death Card, depicting the Grim Reaper.
  13. 13 people, Christ and his 12 disciples, were in attendance at the last supper.  Judas was reportedly the 13th to arrive. This is where the Christian belief ties in, making Friday a believed unlucky day, as the crucifixion occurred on a Friday.
  14. A baker’s dozen consists of 13 for a reason. The origin of the term is disputed. One theory has its roots in the 13th century where the baker’s dozen is related to the severe punishments which existed in England for bakers who shorted their customers; out of fear of accidentally violating the law, bakers threw an extra loaf in to make sure that the lot of bread would be of the proper weight.
  15. Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. “It was bad luck,” Twain later told the friend. “They only had food for 12.”
  16. The number 13 suffers from its position after 12, according to numerologists who consider the latter to be a complete number — 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 days of Christmas and 12 eggs in a dozen.
  17. The seals on the back of a dollar bill include 13 steps on the pyramid, 13 stars above the eagle’s head, 13 war arrows in the eagle’s claw and 13 leaves on the olive branch. So far there’s been no evidence tying these long-ago design decisions to the present economic situation.